We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Parris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My intention with Flour + Time has always been to give people a positive interaction with a plant-based lifestyle. I’ve been vegan for about 3 years and I can honestly say that it has been a purely positive shift in my life. What we eat connects us to our culture, to our memories, and it seems to be synonymous with who we are, but the good news is that that is not quite true. It is completely possible to enjoy all the benefits of a vegan lifestyle while still indulging in chocolate chip cookies that remind you of your grandma’s house or enjoying a chocolate croissant with your coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. My goal is to give the thriving vegan community in Atlanta an offering of treats that they can’t get anywhere else, while also showing not-yet-vegans (wink) that making the switch to plant-based does not mean giving up everything they enjoy. It’s a win-win!
As for the origins of the brand: my boyfriend, Michael, and I came up with the idea of a vegan bakeshop while we were living in San Francisco. I’ve always loved to bake bread and one day I thought “SF is famous for sourdough, maybe I’ll try making sourdough today” HA, what a joke! Little did I know that one doesn’t just “make sourdough”; it requires a completely different process than making other bread, and that one little thought sent me down a deep rabbit hole of research, trial, error, and ultimately some seriously tasty sourdough. I should mention that I am also a performer, and at the time I was doing mostly commercial acting and modeling in the Bay Area. Any performer can tell you that going from gig to gig is never quite enough to survive, and a stable job that is flexible enough to work around gigs is hard to come by, especially one that you enjoy. I was always having to fill in the gaps between gigs with retail jobs that were totally mind-numbing. Once I got the hang of sourdough, Michael (who graduated from the Culinary Insitute of America and was a chef for many years – basically I trust his opinion of what I bake) had the idea that I should start to sell loaves to support myself between acting gigs so I could finally quit retail. We came up with the name Flour + Time because that’s really all it takes to make sourdough: flour (water, salt) and lots of time. We kept talking about it, dreaming of a bakery that could serve superb bread and vegan goodies to our friends and neighbors, but it didn’t begin to come to fruition until the Covid-19 pandemic took most of our other options off the table. Both of our jobs had to shut down, and there were no performance gigs to be had either, so we revisited and revamped the original idea for Flour + Time to adapt to the situation. We figured that the best option was to take orders online and deliver straight to people’s homes, keeping cars off the road and minimizing person-to-person contact. Here we are ten months later and it’s going really well! The vegan community in Atlanta is A) gracious and understanding, B) super supportive, and C) HUNGRY! They have shown me such generous support and I could not be more grateful. So I guess if you ask about my career today, I would happily say that I am a proud small business owner, serving my community as best I can while this pandemic continues and looking forward to the future when Flour + Time is able to grow further!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Well, first of all, I would love for the broader community to know that I am here! Beyond that, I want everyone to know that I am here to serve you, the community. I’m always trying to think of how I can make my business more inclusive and accessible to anyone who would like to support a local baker. Whether that’s cutting out as many allergens as possible from my recipes, taking suggestions for new items or offerings, or coordinating surprise gift deliveries (I love it when people think of me to send gifts and spread a little love), I am always available and eager to hear what my customers need from me. Baking is always a labor of love, and I certainly have a lot of love for the community I’ve found through Flour + Time.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a total homebody so I’m not really the one to suggest the best places to go or things to do, but I do have my favorite spots! For a cozy night in, vegan Chinese takeout from Green Sprout is a must! If you haven’t tried their vegan Mongolian beef, you are seriously missing out. If a friend were visiting me in Atlanta, we would have to talk a long walk around Piedmont Park with a cup of coffee and my two rambunctious doggos, followed by a sugar fix from Revolution Doughnuts. They have more vegan options than you can shake a stick at, and I have decided to not even try making doughnuts for Flour + Time because they’ve got it on lock. I’m a sucker for a rooftop, so I would definitely take a visitor to the roof of Ponce City Market for some carnival games and cocktails. The High Museum of Art is always a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, and all that walking around the thinking about beautiful are is sure to make you hungry enough for a big ‘ole burger from Slutty Vegan. I’ve got to say one of my favorite spots in the city is my own front porch, so I’d have to end a perfect day in the ATL with a glass or three of wine, listening to the wind chimes and watching the “moonlight through the pines”. I’m really looking forward to a time when it is safe for friends and family to come to visit again, and when more of Atlanta’s amazing offerings are open and thriving!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am beyond lucky to have a very supportive family and wonderful friends who I know will always stand with me! That being said, when it comes to Flour + Time I want to give two specific shoutouts. First, I would never have had the courage to make this business a reality without the support of my partner, Michael. He has years of experience in restaurants and kitchens so he has helped me in every aspect of organizing the business. On top of that, he has been my biggest cheerleader from the moment we met and is a constant stream of encouragement. He even helps with the dishes sometimes 🙂
I also want to thank Alejandra at Hell Yeah Gluten Free! As my boss, she knew well before the shutdown that I had dreams of opening my own bakery and has always been 1000% supportive. She gave me several pep talks in the weeks leading up to my opening, a several since then too!
Hannah Lake @hannahlaketakesphotos